You Won't Believe What Our Well Funded Competitors Think of Us...

What does one do when a company 70 times your size starts advertising for your brand name on Google Search?

One of our competitors is bidding on our keyword on Google, i.e. if I search for “Freadom,” their ad shows up on Google.

Vedantu’s raised $100m in their last fund-raise with a total of ~$200m overall. Our last fund-raise: ~$2m with a total of ~$3m. That’s 70x.


Firstly:

  • I’m not keen on going all Jason-Fried and criticize Google - I’m not worried (yet) on bidding wars. (If you missed this episode of “internet-marketing-wars”, here’s a good summary.)

  • I’m not questioning the ethics of big fish stealing little fish’s search volume. We’re forced to pay for Google ads for our own brand name, but it’s not (yet) unaffordable. And fortunately, we’re not tiny fish.

  • I’m not keen on sending them a notice or raising a complaint on Google. I am aware of the MakeMyTrip - HappyEasyGo case. I consider this as friendly competition and not a war. (Are you a marketer at Vedantu? - Hi, we love you. Good luck for your next funding round. Thanks for carrying the edtech torch.)


Secondly:

  • We bid on our competitors’ keywords too - as experiments. The reason we do it is to check how much it costs. So suppose I am running ads on “online english” and it costs me X to run those ads, occasionally we run ads on “<comptt name> + online english” and compare the cost of these ads with X. We also look for the average order value (AOV) for leads through these ads. Typically we run these ads for a 7-10 day period. And we ensure that these are low budget ads.

  • The way to think about this is that suppose we’re all selling burgers (or vadas, yum), then I want to (occasionally) stand in front of my competitors’ stores and see what I can learn. Do they have lots of customers walking in? Are they buying for Rs. 100 or Rs. 500?


Now

  • I checked with our marketing team: The Vedantu ads on our keyword have been running for a while - maybe 3-4 weeks or more.

  • I checked with our sales team: Customers who have responded to our ads have asked us for comparison tables with Vedantu. (They do everything, we focus on 1 thing. Customer has to consider which approach is more appropriate for her.)

  • If these ads are running for that long, then the only logical explanation is that bidding for our brand name is working for them. This doesn’t need to be a CEO decision. BUT, some junior marketer has figured out that a “Google Search campaign on brand name ‘Freadom’” is getting them better customers for lesser money than their other ads.


Hmmm...



Would you, dear reader, consider it possible that a brand 70x our size, with Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador, finds it cheaper to get customers by bidding for the Freadom brand name. Like. Mind=blown.


How did we get here? We were surely too tiny just 6 months back. Here are the top 5 things we did. I hope it helps the little fish Davids out there battling the big fish Goliaths:

  • We spoke to customers and got real customer insights. Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Sachin are Gods; Customers are religious; But, mostly, customers want their problems solved. There are some examples of insights we work with:

    • Parents are concerned that their unique child is not getting individual attention at school - video case study.

    • Parents are concerned that their little erstwhile-exuberant-princess is turning shy - video case study.

  • One customer insight doesn’t cut ice. Competitors can have the same insights - sometimes after you :-) and occasionally before. So, we have an arsenal of insights, and we are always looking for more.

  • We took those insights and modified our campaigns, and our products. We use them through-and-through from ads to landing pages to call center callbacks to trial experiences right till sales. A connected narrative is very powerful. But it’s hard work. Every team has to align.

  • We made honest ads. We promised what’s possible. We delivered what we promised. [Alternatively, if you’re using a hyperbole in an advertisement, then let the customers know - for e.g., every customer knows that “Axe Effect” is a hyperbole - everyone is in on the joke.]

  • Believe in yourself. Don’t let noise from a competitor break your focus.

Bonus: If your Brahmastra-yielding competitors are bidding for your keywords, announce it on a megaphone. Put it in the spotlight. Make a few click-baity posts. You need organic leads - no one knows it like you do.


Now, you’re here, at the almost-end of this blogpost. Now, please don’t be that person who reads a gif-filled article (with listicle) and doesn’t take any action. No!

Meaning, share please. Let everyone know.


Since you’re here:

  1. We are a 12 year old company - link. We believe that children can unlock life and level-up if they can read and speak well.

  2. Our products are Freadom reading app and Freadom Live English classes. And a few other related courses.

  3. We also promote a massive ground campaign to “raise 1 billion readers” called Club1BR.

  4. Our brand name is called Freadom. Freedom+Reading = Freadom. Without the ability to read, there is no real freedom.

  5. Check out this super catchy reading anthem. Hope it stays with you. :-)